The Historic Context
Hosea prophesied during a dark and melancholic era of Israel’s history, a period which saw the decline and fall of the northern kingdom of Israel in the 8th century BC. His message was given in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah and Jeroboam II, king of Israel. Hosea was contemporary with the prophet Amos and lived just before Isaiah and Micah, both prophets of Judah.
Hosea’s name means salvation and with the addition of the first letter of Yahweh (God’s Hebrew name) we obtain Joshua (cp Numbers 13:16) or Jesus (in Greek) which both mean Yahweh saves, Matthew 1:21. Engrossed in their sin, Israel considered Hosea a fool and insane because of his repetitive and onerous message, Hosea 9:7. Hosea was one of the last messengers of God to the northern ten tribes of Israel, before they were taken captive by the king of Assyria.
God, as He worked with His unbelieving and corrupt people, warned them of the judgment that would await them if they did not return to Him. If they would repent, pardon was assured, however Israel persisted in idolatry and their abandonment of God. As a result, they suffered much, but a day is coming when Israel will be restored again to Him, Hosea 3:4-5.
The Prophet Hosea – A Sign for Israel
There were times in the history of the nation of Israel when they would not hear, that God used parables or signs (cp Isaiah 6:9-10; Matthew 13:10-16). Ezekiel is an example of this, Ezekiel 4:3; 12:6. Hosea also was a sign to unfaithful Israel, even the names of his children were symbolic, Hosea 1:3-11. Not only did he receive the directive to take a prostitute wife, but he also had to support her, just as God suffered the waywardness of His people. Despite all this, Hosea would always love his unfaithful wife, as God would always conserve His love for His people, who had abandoned Him and who God would pardon if they returned to Him, Hosea 14:1-2.
Christ Revealed in Hosea
There are a number of verses in Hosea that point forward to the life of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Hosea 11:1 I have called my son out of Egypt, is cited in Matthew 2:15 in reporting the return of Jesus to Nazareth after the death of king Herod.
Jesus’ Last Days:
- Hosea 9:7 The days of visitation are come Luke 19:41-44
- Hosea 9:10 I saw your fathers as the first ripe in the fig tree at her first time Matthew 21:19
- Hosea 9:15 I will drive them out of my house Matthew 21:12-13; Luke 19:44-45
- Hosea 9:16 Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit Mark 11:20-21
- Hosea 10:3 For now shall they say, we have no king John 19:15
- Hosea 10:8 They shall say to the mountains, cover us; and to the hills, fall on us Luke 23:30
I will have mercy on her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God, Hosea 2:23.
Take with you words and return to the LORD, Hosea 14:2.
Section 1 - chapters 1–3 An Unfaithful Wife and a Faithful Husband
Hosea had a disappointing marriage, his wife abandoned him, but he would rehabilitate her
Section 2 - chapters 4–14 An Unfaithful Nation and a Faithful God
An idolatrous and unfaithful Israel refused to repent (ch 4–8)
and experienced judgment (ch 9)
God offers pardon to a guilty nation and foresees their reintegration into His Messianic plan of redemption (ch 10–13)